Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ancient Irish Burials Hint At Long-Held Belief In The Undead

Archaeologists working near Kilteasheen, Ireland unearthed two skeletons from the 8th century buried with stones in their mouths. The reigning theory is that this was done to prevent their return from the grave. There, too, seemed something special about where they were buried since the two men were buried at different times and were of drastically different ages and yet laid to rest together, sometime in the 700s. Middle Ages burials elsewhere have associated this practice as a way to deal with potential vampires and other undead. However, the folklore surrounding that tradition didn't emerge throughout Europe until the 1500s. Still, the archaelogists from the Institute of Technology in Sligo think this may still have been done to prevent revenants, a term for ghosts or animated corpses. It is likely these men were outcasts from the whole of society, such as criminals or victims of some unexplained disease. This would explain why such lengths were taken not only to bury them in a special area, but also to make sure they stayed buried.

3 comments:

Autumnforest said...

That was so creepy and cool.

Jeffery said...

http://www.archive.org/stream/tracesofelderfai00wood/tracesofelderfai00wood_djvu.txt

Not an active link sorry, but cut and paste away and it'll work. It's a good reference site for old books where this kind of knowledge is stored.
The burial mentioned was also a punishment for traitors some believe and the stone was usually inserted hot causing the death in the first place.
Cheers!

MARILYN A. HUDSON, MLIS said...

Since ancient Celts had a belief in reincarnation, it could mean a means of insuring they did not return. I would want to know if the rocks had a high iron content or other mineral as some legends infer the mineral might have had 'magical' properties.